Rideshare accidents, like any car crash, come unexpectedly and can devastate anyone involved. Uber and Lyft drivers are fallible; just like any other driver, they can make mistakes while on the road. However, these cases often involve particular circumstances depending on who is at fault and whether the injured party is a rideshare driver, passenger, or another vehicle’s occupants.
If you recently sustained an injury in a collision involving an Uber, Lyft, or similar service, an Odessa rideshare accident lawyer from the legal team of Domingo Garcia is here to help you fight for fair compensation.
Anatomy of an Odessa Rideshare Accident Claim
All personal injury claims involving auto accidents can involve complicated insurance laws, negotiations with claim adjusters, and proving liability and the claim’s value. However, having a car accident lawyer handle these tasks can simplify this process and ease your burden during a challenging period.
Filing a Claim With the Insurance Company
Texas is an at-fault state, meaning accident victims pursue compensation from the liable party’s auto insurance company. Moreover, if you sustained an injury in an accident caused by a negligent rideshare driver, you would most likely seek a claim against the rideshare company (also known as a transportation network company, or TNC) as well as the driver’s insurer.
The Texas Department of Insurance explains how most popular rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, must purchase policies that cover their drivers and passengers following an accident. Rideshare companies typically offer $1 million in liability insurance. This policy could apply if the driver were:
- Logged into the rideshare app and awaiting a ride request
- En route to pick up a passenger
- Transporting a passenger to their destination
The rideshare company’s policy might also apply if our investigation uncovers negligence by the company in contracting with the driver (e.g., if they had a drunk driving conviction).
When Other Insurance Policies Might Apply
If the rideshare driver was at fault for the accident and they have personal rideshare coverage, you could claim against the policy to compensate for your losses. TNC drivers in Texas must have coverage extending beyond the statutory minimums for personal auto insurance. For example, if the driver logs into the ridesharing app and awaits a ride request, they must have the following coverage:
- $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person per accident
- $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident
- $25,000 in liability coverage for property damage per accident
If a third-party driver caused the accident, their insurance policy might be liable for covering an injured person’s losses. However, if the at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance or is uninsured, you could file against the rideshare company’s policy to cover damages and injuries.
Determining Liability for Your Rideshare Collision
Determining which party is responsible for a rideshare accident often requires a detailed accident investigation and an understanding of which insurance policies apply. When you file a claim with the appropriate insurance company, the adjuster might request a statement or pressure you into settling for less than you deserve. We urge you to refrain from engaging in these conversations with one of their representatives and only accept an offer once you have legal representation.
If you are unsure who is liable for your losses, an Odessa rideshare attorney can help you identify responsible parties and pursue compensation on your behalf. In addition, they can handle communications with the insurer and prevent you from saying something that could compromise your case.
Proving Liability in Your Case
In some accident cases, the at-fault party is readily apparent, and the insurance company will accept liability without a struggle. Other times, the insurer denies its client’s responsibility or blames you for the crash. A car accident attorney will know how to thwart these tactics.
Sometimes, an expert witness, such as an accident reconstructionist, can determine the precise circumstances at play in an accident. In addition, medical professionals can testify to the extent of an injury and how that harm likely occurred. Finally, some injury victims take their cases to trial to prove the defendant was at fault.
Assigning liability in a personal injury claim typically happens when an adjuster or court finds someone negligent. The definition of the legal concept of negligence is a “failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances.” For example, you can demonstrate a rideshare driver’s negligence by affirming these elements regarding your claim:
- Duty of care: The rideshare driver owed you and other individuals on the road a duty to avoid actions (or inactions) that could result in harm.
- Breach of duty: The rideshare driver got behind the wheel under the influence of an intoxicant, breaching their duty to other drivers.
- Causation: The driver ran a red light while driving drunk, crashing into your vehicle.
- Damages: The insurance company totaled your car, and you racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills while healing from a broken leg.
Damages are financial or personal losses you incurred because of the accident. Medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering are examples of damages you could seek in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Determining Your Claim’s Value and Negotiating for Fair Compensation
At-fault parties in a rideshare accident must compensate accident victims for their injuries and damages. For example, a defendant’s contract with an insurer requires it to pay claims up to the policy limits. However, the insurer’s primary objective is to avoid spending more than it should and minimize losses. So, when the insurance company determines what your claim is worth, it might undervalue it and side with the defendant when possible.
Your attorney will help you identify any potential losses and assess their worth. This determination is typically straightforward for damages with a designated monetary value, such as medical bills or lost income. However, quality-of-life losses, such as pain and suffering, often require a recognized formula because they don’t have a set dollar figure. Our team will add all these damages, then use the total as a baseline to negotiate a fair settlement with the defendant or insurer.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If your rideshare accident attorney and the insurance company can agree on a settlement, your case will resolve without going to trial. However, if the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer, you might need to consider filing a lawsuit to secure the compensation you deserve.
Likewise, if your attorney feels it’s appropriate, you can file a lawsuit without attempting to settle. Sometimes, just filing a lawsuit convinces the insurance company to increase its settlement offer.
An Odessa rideshare accident lawyer strives to secure a fair settlement instead of taking the case to court. However, your attorney will recommend whether settling your claim or filing a lawsuit is your most promising course of action and will represent you at trial if that’s what it takes to get you the compensation you need to cover your injury-related losses.
To prove a rideshare accident claim, you and your attorney must collect and present evidence to show how another driver’s negligence harmed you. This proof can include witness statements, accident scene photos, medical records and bills, the police accident report, and anything else that can support your case.
As long as your Odessa rideshare accident lawyer can meet the burden of proof in your claim, you can receive compensation for the economic and noneconomic damages you’ve sustained, which can include:
- Medical bills (e.g., costs related to emergency care, hospitalizations, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and prescription drugs)
- Loss of past and future income (e.g., wages, benefits, and retirement contributions)
- Diminished earning capacity
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment and quality of life
The statute of limitations in Texas for filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date the injury occurred. If you don’t meet this time limit, you might lose the opportunity to pursue compensation for your losses. Our Odessa rideshare attorneys will file their clients’ claims before this deadline passes.
Wrongful Death Claims
If you lost a loved one in a rideshare accident, you might be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party or parties. Certain family members can pursue compensation for losses related to their loved one’s death, including the following:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial and cremation costs
- The decedent’s outstanding medical bills
- Loss of the decedent’s future earnings and inheritance
- Loss of your family member’s guidance, companionship, comfort, and support
- Psychological pain, grief, and anguish stemming from their death
What to Do After a Rideshare Accident
If you’ve been in a rideshare accident, you should take these steps to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights:
- Your priority immediately after the accident is determining if anyone involved (including yourself) is injured or in danger.
- Report the accident to law enforcement or call 911 if necessary.
- Obtain the rideshare driver’s name, contact information, license plate number, and insurance information. If the accident involved other vehicles, you should also retrieve their drivers’ information.
- If applicable, get contact information from any eyewitnesses to the crash.
- Take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage and any injuries sustained.
- Report the accident to the rideshare company whenever possible.
- Even if you feel okay, remember that injury signs and symptoms might not manifest right away. Therefore, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Suppose you believe another driver caused the accident due to negligence. In that case, consider consulting an Odessa rideshare accident attorney to protect your legal right to fair compensation for damages or injuries you suffered.
After the accident, remain composed, cooperate with law enforcement or emergency medical personnel at the accident scene, and prioritize the safety of yourself and others.
Passenger Rights and Driver Requirements
Most rideshare companies have established passenger rights. Drivers must follow specific guidelines within these rights, which include the following:
- Vehicles must be 10 years old or less and in good working condition.
- Every passenger must have seat belts available to them.
- Drivers must not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Passengers must have personal space.
- Drivers must provide safe transport and not violate traffic laws.
Furthermore, operating a ridesharing vehicle in Texas requires a state permit. To qualify, a driver must be at least 18 and have a valid U.S. driver’s license. In addition, they must have proof of registration and auto insurance and pass a background check. Finally, a TNC driver must not have been convicted of a criminal offense in the last three years or have more than three moving violations.
What Disqualifies a Rideshare Driver?
An individual cannot become a rideshare driver if they have a conviction for fleeing from law enforcement, reckless driving, or driving without a valid driver’s license. In addition, they must not have a conviction for any of these offenses in the previous seven years:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Using a motor vehicle to commit a felony
- Felony crime involving property damage
- An act of violence or terrorism
- A sex offense or registering as a sex offender
A driver or rideshare company that violates the above requirements or regulations may be liable for an injured party’s losses. Your attorney can use these disqualifying acts to prove negligence in a rideshare accident claim.
Causes of Rideshare Accidents in Ector County
Rideshare accidents are just like other motor vehicle collisions—they often result from negligence. Rideshare drivers commonly commit the following negligent acts:
- Speeding to pick up a passenger or get them to their destination on time.
- Distracted driving, such as talking or texting on a cellphone or looking down at their GPS.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Failing to adhere to traffic lights and signs that required drivers to stop, yield, or slow down.
- Making unsafe turns or lane changes.
- Driving carelessly or recklessly.
- Making abrupt stops for passengers to exit.
Our team might find a negligent driver committed other traffic violations that caused your wreck. If the investigating officer tickets or arrests the rideshare driver for a traffic offense, this could provide crucial evidence of negligence—and possibly convince the at-fault parties’ insurers to settle rather than drag the claim out in court.
Rideshare Driver Qualifications and How They Affect Accident Claims
It’s critical to know that drivers for companies such as Uber or Lyft usually do not undergo training to use their vehicles for ridesharing. However, these companies have specific qualifications, such as drivers must be 21 or older, have a valid driver’s license, and have significant driving experience.
Rideshare companies also perform background and DMV checks for traffic violations and criminal convictions. However, if they fail to perform these checks or adhere to these standards, you could use this failure as proof of negligence in your claim.
Example of a Domingo Garcia Car Accident Settlement
The Dallas legal team at Domingo Garcia recently won $100,000 plus interest and court costs for a car wreck case. In doing so, they beat a defense attorney who hadn’t lost a case in six years. Our team rejected a pretrial offer of $60,000.
While we cannot promise a similar result in your case, we can promise that we will do everything possible to recover fair compensation for your losses.
Common Injuries Sustained in Rideshare Accidents
You could suffer various injuries in an Odessa rideshare accident, ranging from mild to severe, including the following:
Brain and Head Trauma
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emergency departments reported an estimated 2.87 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in 2014, costing billions of dollars in medical expenses, lost income, decreased productivity, and other costs. The CDC also reports TBIs commonly occur in car accidents, typically due to an abrupt jolt or blow to the head.
Brain injuries are often devastating because they can affect a victim’s cognitive abilities, memory, or vital bodily processes such as breathing and heart function. Even relatively mild brain injuries can cause lasting damage. For example, some individuals must take considerable time off work. Others will not be able to continue to earn the wages they once did or work in any capacity. Unfortunately, the most severe cases of brain damage can lead to coma and death.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Survivors of rideshare accidents can sustain catastrophic spinal cord injuries that result in partial or total paralysis. For instance, injuries high on the spine can cause a person to lose function in all four limbs.
Even if the spinal cord does not sustain harm, damage to the vertebrae can put the entire spinal cord at risk. For example, bone fragments can cause severe damage to the spine’s soft tissues, such as the discs between the vertebrae, which can cause extreme pain.
Nerve damage can occur in rideshare accidents due to the force of the impact, the type of collision, and the body’s position as the accident occurs. For instance, whiplash injuries can cause nerve damage due to the stretching or compressing of nerves in the neck. Nerve damage could manifest with various symptoms—some of which could be permanent—including pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and decreased mobility.
The force of impact in a car accident can result in a person’s body colliding with the dashboard or steering wheel, causing blunt chest trauma. This impact can result in heart and heart valve damage, including contusions or bruising.
In severe cases, auto accidents can cause sudden cardiac arrest due to the crash’s impact, emotional stress, or other factors. In addition, if the heart stops beating, this can also damage the heart muscle or other organs due to a lack of oxygen.
A forceful strike to the chest or upper body can lead to a lung injury. For example, the impact of a collision could pierce, bruise, or lacerate your lungs. In addition, a fire or explosion could mean you inhale noxious smoke or chemicals, causing lung irritation and tissue damage. Finally, in some instances, an accident can lead to oxygen deprivation, such as if a victim is trapped in a confined space, causing damage to the lungs and other organs.
Internal Organ Injuries
In addition to the lungs, heart, and spine, a rideshare accident can cause damage to other organs. This damage can be very severe or even fatal. For example, vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, and intestines could sustain injuries due to the collision, the impact of an airbag, or seatbelt syndrome. Sometimes, the spleen, gallbladder, or other organs require surgical removal.
Consult an Odessa Rideshare Accident Attorney Today
Rideshare accident injury lawyers can handle the legal processes involved in these claims and advocate for your best interests. Having legal counsel available to answer your questions and keep you informed throughout the process can be essential to reducing stress and uncertainty in the aftermath of a serious accident.
Regardless of an injury’s severity or the circumstances in which you suffered it, the personal injury claims process can seem overwhelming, especially while you must concentrate on healing and restoring their lives. However, for over 35 years, the personal injury attorneys at Domingo Garcia have helped car crash and rideshare accident victims secure the compensation they deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review to learn more about your legal rights and options for financial recovery.